Hi there. Normally I try to keep Earth Song Jewelry focused on the jewelry, the creation process, and on finding the right jewelry for you. Forgive me if I’m making an exception at the moment.
International Women’s Day, which is March 8th, during Women’s History Month, is incredibly important to me.
I’m not simply a small business owner, a jewelry artisan, and an American entrepreneur. I’m also a woman - and being a woman has shaped my experience in many ways, some obvious, others more subtle.
Today, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of the women in the Tech Industry right now for a reason that might be a little surprising to some of you.
You see, before I launched Earth Song Jewelry and decided to turn my love of nature and natural stones into a full-time business, I had a 30-year career. In 1981 I went to school for engineering, back when women in engineering, or any STEM career, were still relatively rare. In fact, I rose to several prominent executive management positions. After almost 30 years, I decided to leave Silicon Valley, in part because being a woman and an engineer was a minefield of constantly fighting for the respect and pay my experience, company position, and skills deserved.
Unfortunately, part of reaching those executive management positions was seeing how real the pay gap was - and how I had been included in that pay gap compared with my peers.
Starting my journey in Engineering back in 1981, I remember being the only woman in many of my University classes. I had professors ask me why I was taking their class, including one who outright suggested I should leave and pursue a different education and career.
Thankfully, I was hired by a different professor, one who saw my skills rather than my gender, who hired me to write the software needed for the research done by his graduate students. That hiring decision helped launch my career. And I’m grateful because it was an opportunity to prove what I could do in a demonstrable way.
That opportunity showed me how powerful it was to have someone believe in you. It gave me better chances in the job market after graduation and more confidence that I had the skills I needed for a successful career.
But, given my experiences with other professors questioning my class decisions, not giving me the final grades my assignments and test scores deserved, and other experiences of bias; I wonder if I would have had the same chances as my male peers if I hadn’t had a professor willing to give me a remarkable opportunity.
I don’t want to make it sound like being an engineer was all bad, either. My profession taught me so many skills, ways of thinking and ways of keeping myself organized that I still use today in the management and jewelry design process for Earth Song Jewelry.
Turns out, having a background in software engineering makes for some great handmade jewelry!
Facing an uphill battle for promotions, for pay, and for the respect I deserved (sometimes even having to follow the men in business meetings to the men’s bathroom because it didn’t occur to them that continuing the meeting in the men’s room excluded one member of the meeting!), taught me a lot about myself. It taught me my value and the value of my knowledge and skill set. It taught me how taking ownership of problems and making yourself responsible for fixing them can be empowering. I learned not only that I should stand up for myself but how to do that, even when no one wanted to hear what I had to say.
I also discovered that I was the kind of person that was willing to stand up for other people in those same business meetings. I’d had that kind of leg up from the professor that believed in me and others, and now that I was in a position to help other people in the same career, I discovered that I could. So I did.
Ultimately, when I decided it was time to forge my own path and become my own boss by launching Earth Song Jewelry; my career in engineering taught me many things, but it was time for a change. I was strong enough to stand on my own two feet and run my own business. It was a complicated decision, but a big part of why I decided to change careers and launch my own business was because I wanted to treat myself the way I deserved instead of continuing to fight to stay in a career I loved, but that rarely seemed to love me back.
Because of my history, I know first-hand how important it is to uplift women and to celebrate the women who are thriving, especially in tech. The tech industry sometimes looks like a boy’s club, especially at the executive level where efforts toward diversity and inclusion have been slower to take root. But the women who thrive there are strong, skilled, insightful, and many of them had to fight battles just like mine to get where they are.
So, let’s shine a spotlight on some of the women thriving in, and changing, the tech industry.
Six Women Thriving In Tech
There are thousands of women who deserve to be in this spotlight, but for the moment, I’ll highlight just a few. These are women in executive roles, with proven track records and impressive careers. They’re also the women helping prove that women belong in tech and that having diverse voices at the table helps everyone.
To learn even more about the top women in tech, take a look at WomenTech Network’s list of 100 top women to watch.
Anjali Sud - Vimeo
Anjali Sud is the current CEO of Vimeo, and has also been the company’s General Manager and Senior VP before she became the CEO.
In her time at the company, she has led marketing initiatives to increase the user base, attract new users, and solidify Vimeo as an international video hosting platform.
Her unique guidance helped improve customer retention rates, innovated Vimeo’s customer acquisitions process, and has been vital to Vimeo’s success. Without Anjali, Vimeo is a very different company.
Cindy Taibi - The New York Times
The New York Times might not be the first company you think of when you think tech, but the NYT technology and information departments rely on the same skills you’d expect in a standard tech company.
Cindi Taibi made history as the New York Times’ first ever woman Chief Information Officer. She has worked as a developer, overseen regional IT needs for the paper, and oversaw international infrastructure for the company even before taking on her current role as the CIO.
Just as important as her individual impact on the New York Times, Taibi also co-leads the New York Times’ Women In Technology Group, helping to encourage more women in tech, and to uplift the talented women already working in the field.
Kate Maxwell - Microsoft
Kate Maxwell’s role is perhaps one of the most important fields in tech right now, global defense and information security. She understands the importance of keeping information secure, especially in a time where cybersecurity threats are incredibly common, and the threats themselves are getting bigger and more serious as time goes on.
Maxwell works with customers to meet their individual security needs, designing systems to meet new challenges, and staying on top of developments in the information ecosystem.
In addition, Maxwell is another woman who concentrates on mentorship and helping other people find fruitful careers in tech. She coaches and mentors promising individuals one on one, and also provides scholarship funds for women graduating from her high school alma mater who plan on going to college for a tech degree.
Najoh Tita-Reid - Logitech
Najoh Tita-Reid serves as Logitech’s Global Chief Marketing Officer and her resume includes a wide range of marketing projects for the company. She manages worldwide marketing efforts, and also personally created the first digital marketing department for Logitech.
While Tita-Reid’s expertise is more marketing than coding, engineering, or managing IT, she’s still been a transformative figure for this tech company. It’s no surprise to see her as the Global Chief Marketing Officer, or to see her expertly managing revenue growth, performance, and marketing.
Noorpur Davis - Comcast
Going back to security, Noorpur Davis serves as Comcast’s Executive Vice President, and Chief Information Security & Product Privacy Officer. In these roles, Davis is responsible for Comcast’s product security and privacy for both their residential and business product lines.
Noorpur is up to the challenge, with a history that includes working as Intel’s Vice President of Global Quality, winning several awards for her work in cybersecurity and for her commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Rachana Kumar - Etsy
Last, but certainly not least, Kumar is the latest CEO of a company that’s a little closer to home for me as a small handmade jewelry business, Etsy.
Kumar took on the role starting on January 1st of this year, 2023. Before taking on this new challenge, Kumar was in another role particularly special to me, the Vice President of Engineering for Etsy.
Kumar is known to be effective no matter what she puts her mind to, and has experience working in India and Cambodia in addition to the United States. One of her big projects for Etsy? Expanding their Mexico City office to increase Etsy’s standing as an international platform for creative makers of all stripes.
March Is Me - Earth Song Jewelry’s Tribute To Celebrating Women
Speaking of creative makers… this is where I circle back to talking about Earth Song Jewelry. Subtle, right?
In honor of International Women’s Day, Women’s History Month and to celebrate March Is Me Month with the Women’s Jewelry Association, I have a collection of jewelry I specifically curated with the idea of celebrating yourself, femininity, and your own womanhood.
If you’re interested in treating yourself to beautiful handmade jewelry and want to support a woman entrepreneur and small business owner at the same time, my March Is Me Collection is a great way to get started.
And, if you’ve made it this far into the article, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for listening and coming along with me while I explain why International Women’s Day is so impactful for me personally, and for helping uplift women by learning a little more about the capable women helping to shape today’s tech.